My health writing checklist helps you break down the art and science of clear health writing.
Producing clear, accurate and engaging health content for a lay or consumer audience can seem extremely daunting. That’s especially true if you don’t have a lot of experience writing for a consumer audience.
These days, there’s a lot to consider when you plan your health content. You need a useful, unique health topic. A socially responsible message.
Your content needs to consider behavioural change principles, because you want your readers to actually follow your best-practice recommendations.
And, you want to educate your readers – improve their health literacy, so they can make informed health choices.
There’s a lot of responsibility in being a consumer health writer.
That’s why I created this health writing checklist.
If you can answer YES to most of these questions in the checklist, you’re definitely on the way to producing responsible, high-quality, life-changing health content.
Complete the form to download the checklist – or, read on to view the list below.
Health Writing Checklist
Before you begin
You often need to spend more time conducting research for your health writing projects than actually writing! Make sure you complete these essential steps before you start writing.
- Is your idea original?
- Have you defined your target audience?
- Do you understand your topic thoroughly?
- Have you defined your purpose and objectives?
- Is your chosen topic useful and helpful?
- Have you researched your topic extensively?
- Did you consult a variety of high-quality sources and experts to enhance your understanding?
- Have you read the full studies (not just the abstracts or press releases)?
In the health writing checklist, these are the essential steps to ensure you’re writing quality content that your readers understand.
- Have you written in plain English using common, everyday words?
- Are your sentences short and snappy (under 2 lines)?
- Have you clearly defined or removed all medical jargon?
- Are your paragraphs short (max 4-5 lines)?
- Is your writing culturally appropriate?
- Are your words short (aim for 3 syllables or less on average)?
Don’t forget these simple yet effective writing techniques.
- Have you included:
- active verbs?
- inclusive language – ‘you’ and ‘we’?
- positive language?
- some slang words?
- Is your writing conversational, with contractions?
- Have you broken a few grammar rules?
- Are your sentence lengths varied?
As health writers, we don’t just write about health. We need to engage our audiences. Here’s how you can make sure your content has the best chance of captivating your readers.
- Have you told a story or included an anecdote?
- Is your writing entertaining?
- Have you incorporated humour where/if possible?
- Do you ask your readers questions and encourage them to reflect?
- Have you included links to definitions of complex terms?
Readability is the ease at which your readers can read your content – and it’s especially important in online writing.
- Is your content well formatted?
- Have you included clear subheadings?
- Is your font size and type clear and easy to read?
- Have you used bold and italics where appropriate?
- Do your subheadings contain your key points?
- Have you included bullet or numbered lists?
- Is there plenty of white space between paragraphs?
- Have you linked out to relevant content?
- Are your links well formatted?
- Have you included at least one image?
If your content isn’t relevant, your readers won’t care.
- Is the topic relevant to your target audience?
- Have you addressed your target audience’s pain points, questions or concerns?
- Is your tone appropriate for your subject matter?
Quality control and compliance
Being a high-quality health writer involves being a responsible health writer.
- Have you double checked your facts?
- Is your messaging socially responsible?
- Are your health claims accurate and linked to their original sources?
- Have you consulted your local marketing and advertising guidelines?
Step back and look at your content as a whole.
- Are your key take-home messages memorable?
- Have you given your reader a way to continue their journey after they’ve finished reading?
- Can people with low health literacy skills understand your writing?
- Is your content scannable?
- Have you sent your content to others for feedback?
- Are you satisfied and proud of your final version?